Friday, February 11, 2011

333 Shoot out the lights- A revision of opinion.

Album: Shoot out the lights
Artist: Richard and Linda Thompson
Genre: Rock
Year: 1982


  1. Don't Renege on Our Love
  2. Walking on a Wire
  3. Man in Need
  4. Just the Motion
  5. Shoot Out the Lights
  6. Back Street Slide
  7. Did She Jump or Was She Pushed?
  8. Wall of Death

Regular readers may recall many moons ago when I reviewed album 479 on this countdown which was I want to See the Bright Lights tonight by Richard and Linda Thompson. I didn't enjoy it. In fact it's fair to say I never wanted to hear it again. Now a year has passed, along with almost 150 albums and nothing much as changed. Just reading the track-listing of that former album makes me unhappy in ways I can't describe. Although I have since become aware of how many people have covered the title track and Down Where The Drunkards Roll.

So here I am reviewing another album by Richard and Linda and getting the chance to reassess my views. The good news is that I'm prepared to say Shoot Out the lights is a far superior album. It's better in every respect and light years ahead of Bright Lights. The fact that I still don't like it should go some way to telling you how much I didn't enjoy their other offering.

I can say without fear of contradiction that Richard Thompson is a great guitarist. One of the strengths of this release is the fact that he's allowed a chance to actually play that thing a lot more. Bright Lights was a weird attempt to mix folk and rock and failed at both. Shoot out the lights at least knows it's a rock album. Richard Thompson spends most of his time on an electric six-string and he can clearly play that thing. He has a really clean sounding tone and a soloing style that clearly owes a lot to his more acoustic rootes. If he could sing and write songs as well as he can play this album would be fantastic. In fact I wouldn't be writing this now I'd be typing this in a few years when I get to the top 100. Sadly Richard Thompson has a voice that can best be described as dreary. It sounds like a guy who likes playing guitar and only sings under sufference because nobody else will. So what makes it more baffling is the fact that he has a perfectly good singer hanging around the studio. Linda can definitely hold a note and sings really well. She's great on this album and it's a mystery to me that Richard ever thought his tones would be preferable in a song to hers.

The songwriting is also a major let down. Richard writes all the music and frankly it's tedious stuff. He doesn't really have a great ear for a tune and he's quite happy to find an annoyingly repetitive hook and milk it for all it's worth. Don't renege on our love is the worst example but Did she Jump or Was she pushed comes a close second.

Shoot out the lights was a pleasant surprise. It didn't annoy me in the way I expected it to and Thompson's playing has peaked my interest enough to want to hunt out some of his other work. If Richard and Linda hooked up with someone who could write really good tracks and Richard was content to play guitar then great things could ensue.

Highlight: The guitar work. There is no doubt the man can play
Lowlight: Don't renege on our love. Listening to it makes you realise just how silly the word Renege actually is. Say it a few times outloud. Who in their right mind would want to include it in a song lyric, let alone make it the title and main chorus?

Influenced by: Traditional Folk and the Beatles.
Influenced: Richard Thompson fans. If you meet them it doesn't take them long to tell you how under rated he is. I've even heard one use the sacriligous term: better than Hendrix.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "this album bears re-listening and re-listening. Simply brilliant. I laugh; I cry; I want my mommy."

-I'm sure your maternal parent is touched beyond words.

So did this make you renege on your love for Richard and Linda or was it Just the Motion you were looking for? Let me know below.

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